Calvinism teaches that freedom is "the ability to act according to
your desires." Furthermore, it teaches that the will "always chooses
according to its greatest desire." For example, if I have a choice
between eating a steak or eating chopped
liver, I will always choose the steak because I desire it most. In fact,
it could be said that I was unable to choose the liver since I did
want the liver. If you have no desire for something, you simply will not
Arminianism teaches that freedom is the ability to have chosen
other than you did. For example, on the Arminian view I did not make a
free choice in choosing the steak. Why? Because my choice was
determined by something -- my greatest desire. They
say that unless I was able to choose the liver over the steak, I was not
acting freely when I chose the steak.
Calvinists are not troubled by the fact that I "could not have
otherwise." They point to a distinction between natural ability
otherwise and moral ability to do otherwise. They believe that
responsibility (and thus freedom) rest upon natural ability to do
otherwise, but not moral ability to do otherwise.
Natural ability to do otherwise means that there are no
constraints forcing one to act. It means that if one wants to do
otherwise, he can. If natural ability is taken away, responsibility goes
as well. For example, if my teacher commands
me to fly like a bird to Canada, he cannot hold me accountable for not
doing it because I do not have the physical capability to do so.
Moral inability simply means that you will not choose what you
not want to choose. It does not mean that you could not chose it if you
wanted it. It means that you cannot choose it because you have no desire
for it. Moral inability, therefore,
does not remove accountability. For example, if my teacher commands me
to do an assignment, my lack of moral ability would mean I have no desire
to do the assignment. Let's say I have a greater desire to watch T.V.
than do the assignment. Obviously, I
could do it if I wanted to, but I simply do not want to. Clearly, my
desire to watch T.V. being greater than my desire to obey my teacher
would not remove my moral accountability.
In the steak example, I made a free choice on the Calvinist view
because I had the natural ability to choose the liver if I had wanted
choose the liver. Nothing outside of myself was forcing me to choose
the steak. I was not physically prevented
from eating liver. Since I had the physical capability to choose the
liver, I made a real choice. My inability to choose the liver was a
moral inability, not a natural inability. When I say I was unable to
choose the liver, I mean that I could not
bring myself to choose the liver because I had no desire for the liver.
Which view of freedom does the Bible teach? The Calvinist or
the Arminian? A quick look at the biblical teaching of eternal security
reveals that the Calvinist view is correct.
Once a person comes to Christ, the cannot loose their salvation
(John 10:26-30). They are eternally saved and will go to heaven when
they die. It is not possible for them to be lost. This is a big problem
for the Arminian view of freedom. If it is
not possible for a person to loose his salvation, then there are two
1. It is possible for a person to reject Christ and reject eternal life,
but God will still take him to heaven when he dies even though he has
2. It is not possible for a person to reject Christ and eternal life
once he is saved.
Under option one, clearly the person's will is violated. For the
person would be rejecting Christ but God would be taking them to heaven
anyway. He would be saving the person against his will. This would
obviously be inconsistent with both the
Arminian view of freedom and the Bible.
So we must conclude that a true Christian will never utterly
Christ and heaven. But if it is not possible for a person to reject
Christ, then the person cannot do other than continue believing.
This is another problem for the Arminian view -- on the Arminian view, the minute that you cannot do otherwise,
not free. Thus, eternal security is inconsistent with the Arminian view
The Arminian may respond "the person will never reject Christ
because they to reject Christ. They are freely continuing to believe
because they want to continue believing. They cannot reject Christ
because they do not want to." But isn't that the
Calvinist view of freedom? It certainly isn't the Arminian view because
the person cannot do otherwise than continue believing.
The Biblical teaching of eternal security clearly teaches the
Calvinist view of freedom--the person cannot reject eternal life
they are saved because they do not want to reject eternal life.
causes us to continue wanting to believe in Him once we are saved --
Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 36:27.
For those who do not believe in eternal security, my argument
not change much. In heaven we will no longer sin or reject Christ. So,
it is not possible for a saint in heaven to reject God. This leads to
the same dilemma as eternal security,
unless one accepts the Calvinist view of freedom.
What implications does this have? While there are many, a central
one is that this reveals that God is able to determine who will be
saved without violating our wills or forcing us to believe. If a
person is elect, God does not force them to believe but neither does He leave open the possibility that they will use their will to
reject Him and overthrow His plan. For if God prepares their heart and
gives them a desire for Christ that is greater than their desire to
remain in sin, the person will most certainly come -- and will come
freely. Perhaps the implications for salvation can be summed up most
clearly like this: If God is able, after we have been saved, to keep us
believing in Christ without violating our freedom, why can't He, before
we are saved, cause us to believe in Christ in order to become saved -- without violating our wills? In light of what we have seen, it
seems clear that He can.